Los Angeles – Eight high-ranking German and U.S. Porsche executives were present to lend significant weight to the official launch of the Porsche Macan (pronounced ma-Can) SUV at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. Porsche’s plans for the Macan SUV, along with their existing Cayenne, will account for over 60 percent of the company’s units sold, tipping the company from the sports car to the SUV side of the world’s auto manufacturers.
Macan, which means “tiger” in Indonesia, will be launched in three models ranging in price from $50,895 and up to $73,295. The Macan S is the ground-floor model, available in a gasoline-powered 340-hp, 3.0-liter, V-6 bi-turbo engine or a 258-hp, 3.0-litre diesel. The third and top model available, the Macan Turbo, will embrace a 400-hp, 3.6-litre, V-6 bi-turbo gasoline engine. Currently, all three models of the Macan will include permanent four-wheel drive and a seven speed, dual-clutch transmission.
To lend to the sports car feel, the Macan will include wheel-mounted shifting paddles and an exhaust flap that claims to put out a more robust sound than you’d normally expect from an SUV. Another option is air suspension that will allow the driver to lower the vehicle as much as 1.6 inches, at the touch of a button, lowering the Macan’s center of gravity for added high-performance driving. The ride height can then be adjusted back to 9.1 inches of ground clearance for improved off-road performance. Standard driving aids will include stability control and an automatic braking differential with anti-slip management to further add to the Macan’s high-performance assets.
The Macan will recuperate energy when braking and thermal management functions are present that will add to increased fuel savings. To help with even more fuel savings, a coasting mode will disconnect the engine from the gear box when a trailing throttle is engaged.
The new SUV will ride atop different sized tires from front to rear, which will sharpen the steering response while also offering top-notch traction. The Macan S will ship with 235/60 front and 255/55 rear tires. The Macan Turbo will receive 19-inch wheels with 235/55 front and 255/50 rear tires.
Unofficial talk is that Porsche is looking into offering a less expensive 4 cylinder models in the future. Those plans include a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline gasoline engine and a turbocharged 180-hp rail diesel. The planned four-cylinder engines will be sourced from the parent company, VW, for both the gasoline and diesel models. When the four-cylinder models will be available is anyone’s guess, but it would be the first four-cylinder Porsche since 1995, when production was halted on the 968.
With Porsche and Audi both under the VW umbrella, The Macan is being derived from the existing Audi Q5. However, any similarity between the two vehicles ends there, with 70% of the Macan’s components being entirely different or significantly altered from the Q5’s construction.
Dimensions of the Macan are smaller than Porsche’s flagship SUV, the Cayenne, with the Macan being 5.7” shorter, 3.2” lower, and 0.6” narrower. The model S will have a curb-weight of 4112 lbs., which is 441 lbs. lower than its counterpart the Cayenne S, while the Turbo is 540 lbs. lighter than its counterpart the Cayenne Turbo which weighs-in at 4,244 lbs.
Porsche will begin producing 50,000 Macans in the spring of 2014, with North America, Europe, and Asia splitting the numbers, with each receiving one-third of the total number produced. The company recently invested 500 million euros adding the Macan’s production line to their facility at Leipzig, Germany, where they currently produce the Cayenne and Panamera. Together with the Cayenne, the new Macan tips Porsche to the SUV side, by making up 64 percent of Porsche’s total production.
After the announcement, people began talking that the company might be diluting their reputation as a sports car manufacturer. A similar buzz ensued in 2002 when Porsche launched their only other existing SUV, the Cayenne. Porsche was quick to quell those concerns, when they brought to light that many of their 911 owners also own a Cayenne as a family or winter vehicle, instead of driving one of their competitors SUVs.
Tipping the scales to the SUV side is something that Porsche is not concerned about at all. As the worldwide demand for SUVs continues to rise, the Macan is Porsche’s answer to the growing SUV market.
By Brent Matsalla